Is this a cluster headache?

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Posted by Denice ( on June 21, 2000 at 20:11:03:

Hi, I am new to this board and I am not sure if I belong. I have been diagnosed with a migraine variant. I want to describe what happens and maybe there is someone out there who can relate. Last year I started having attacks (I don't call them headaches because there is NO COMPARISON) in June of last year. Usually the people around me notice the attack before I even realize something is wrong. My left eyelid droops and my eye goes wall-eyed, my face and neck turn red. One eye's pupil appears larger than the other eye (even noted by the nuero-opthamologist). A whitest (snot looking) substance drips from the left eye and my left nostril runs. The left side of my face is numb. The first indication I have that something is wrong is my vision blurs. I sometimes get a cricket head noise before the attack and it gets louder as the attack occurs. Within minutes of the vision blur I get the sensation that someone has wrapped a rubberband around my left eyeball and is pulling back as tight as they can (even the skin on my face feels tight). The next thing I feel is the snap when they let go of the rubberband, it feels like someone is slamming my face down in the ground in front of me. It is intense but over in seconds. It takes around 15-30 minutes from the minute I realize something is wrong till it is over. During it I can understand when people talk to me but I can't find words to answer them(it like my mind is racing to recongize the words). If they offer multiple choice I can pick it out. I am not light sensitive during the attack (am extremely afterwards) but I prefer to be alone in a quiet place where I can rock till the snap is done. Once the attack is over I fall asleep and sleep for 3-6 hours (I mean drool sleep). My left eyelid remains drooped and my vision will be blurred for hours (sometimes days afterwards). After one attack last year my nuero-opthomologist tracked the recovery of my eye and the hole in my vision took three weeks to return to normal. My vision was impaired and I had to have new contacts. Bummer since I had just got new contacts two months prior to the attack and my insurance would only cover 1 set per year.
It is so frustrating because when I get an attack I know the rest of my day is shot! I also know if I get an attack that within the next two days I will get at least 2 more of them. For instance if I get one at 6pm on a Thursday I will have at least two more by Saturday. Come the following week the same routine, week after week for about 4 weeks. Then I get like a lull for a week and then the attacks start again on a different day and will repeat for the next few weeks. The attacks build in intensity and number till I think I would rather die..then they start to taper off and disappear by Sept.
My neurologist has not really offered me any real explanation as to why??? He seems to think that a head injury I recieved a few years ago is related (since same side as attack).
At any rate, I am a 42 year old female with high chol( take lipitor) and have had 4 sinus surgeries. I take 50mg Pamelor,360mg Verapamil, 150mg Indomethacin daily as preventative. I take duradrin(midrin) at the onset of attack. My attacks occur during the day, my vision fades to grey for hours after the attack. I have had 3 attacks this month that woke me about 1 hour before I normally wake up (horrible way to wake up!). Any insight is greatly appreciated. I am sorry this is so long, but it is nice to share this with people that might can comprehend what I am going thru. My friends say I look like I am having a stroke ( I feel freakish), I prefer not to go into details with them, it is just too weird!

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